What You Should Know About Cutting and Cooking Onions

According to the National Onion Association, America’s consumption of onions has risen 50 percent in the last 20 years. This is great news, since onions boast many health benefits.

Aside from making soups and stir-fries delicious, onions are a source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, selenium, vitamin K and vitamin B6–all of which are vital for our health. The allium vegetable is a low-calorie food (one medium bulb has about 45 calories), and it contains no cholesterol or sodium.

Allergy-sufferers take note: onions also contain a powerful compound called quercetin, which fights allergies and inflammation. In fact, onions contain the highest amount of quercetin of any other vegetable on earth!

When onions are cut, they release beneficial sulfur and other compounds that are known to have anti-cancer properties. The finer you cut, the more nutrients you are going to get. Experts advise letting onions sit for at least five to 10 minutes after cutting, so that they release more of their valuable minerals and compounds.

Yes, onions can trigger tears, but here is the upside: those that make you cry harder are the best for your health. The more pungent the onion, the more disease-fighting compounds it contains, finds a study done at the Cornell Univeristy in Ithaca, N.Y.

How long should onions be cooked before they lose their nutrients? I found varying answers to this.

One advice is to cook them no longer than five minutes. This healthy saute recipe keeps 7 minutes as the limit, adding that slow cooking them until they are caramelized does bring out their natural sweetness but destroys many of their health benefits. While I will definitely keep enjoying the occasional sprinkling of fried onions upon a bed of pulao, I am going to make sure from now on I cook them short and quick for the most part!

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Christine Jones
Christine J.about a year ago

Never knew that about cutting finely and letting them sit. You learn something every day at Care2.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

Wow - I did not know onions had all those benefits!!
Now, I need to learn to let them sit for 5 minutes before cooking, and not cook them too long.

Don Swanz
Don Swanz2 years ago

Onions and garlic on everything. Don and I CAN! :-))

Andromahi D.
.2 years ago

I didn't know there was a National Onion Association

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly2 years ago

Butter some white bread lightly and top with chopped green onion.Salt it to taste. Yum.

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly2 years ago

Red onions are great raw in a salad or sandwich.

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly2 years ago

I never buy onions in less than a 25 lb bag

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly2 years ago

My son thought I was a genius the first time I sliced and browned onions for a burger topping.

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly2 years ago

I love onions.

Colin Hope
Colin Hope2 years ago

Thank you!!